Posts Tagged 'references'

Admissions decisions = a branch of holism

We are often asked about statistics that describe the current SMF class. We have calculated the statistics that represent the 2013 Fisher SMF class. Click here for the class profile statistics.

Please know that this data is aggregated – it is a summary of over 40 students currently enrolled in the program. No single applicant looks the same. The admissions committee looks at everything in each applicant’s file – no one will be denied or admitted on a single criterion (e.g. GMAT, GPA, etc.). A high GMAT does not guarantee admission nor will a “low” GMAT necessarily prevent someone from being admitted into the program. The same is true for GPA. The admissions committee looks at everything – in other words, the committee is most concerned how your credentials (references, essays, transcripts, GMAT, resume), taken together, present a complete picture of you as a potential student in this program. We are not concerned so much with the individual components – individual components, by themselves, are not indicative of an applicant’s strengths. We are more concerned with how all of these individual components, taken together, comprise a complete picture of the applicant.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts


3 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing Your 2013 Fisher SMF Application

Three things to keep in mind when preparing your SMF application

Be aware of deadlines

Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on you. I recommend taking a look at the deadlines and working backward. If you want to submit your application by December 1, for example, you know that gives you approximately four months or sixteen weeks from now until then. You need to be aware of how long each item will take to be completed and submitted to us. Examples include but are not limited to:

GMAT: About two to four weeks will go by from the time you take the GMAT to the time we get your scores. Accordingly, if you want your scores to be here by December 1, you should plan on taking the GMAT no later than November 15.

References: How long will your references take to prepare their recommendations for you? Work backwards from December 1 and add an extra couple of weeks or more as “cushion” in case anything unforeseen and unpredicted occurs.

It is OK to submit things “out of order”

You do not need to wait before everything is complete before submitting your application materials. For example, you can submit GMAT scores before submitting your application. Conversely, you can submit your application before taking the GMAT. You can submit your application before all your references are received. You can submit your transcripts to us before you submit your application. And so on.

Be very aware of how long things will take to complete/submit when compiling your application materials – and assume it will take longer than you plan

As mentioned earlier, we will not receive your GMAT scores the day after you sit for the test. Plan for the lag time. Also, your references will need (on average) at least one month to prepare your letters of recommendation.

Transcripts can take a long or short time to get to us – it all depends on the university issuing the transcripts. And sometimes colleges “forget” to send them. Advice: Find out from your school how long it will take to issue your transcripts. Plan accordingly. Build in a margin of safety. And follow up with your school to ensure it sent them to us.


TOEFL scores can take a long time to arrive at Ohio State. How long? It varies. It can be anything from several weeks to several months. The delay is almost always due to the TOEFL test administrator. If you are an international student and need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores, be sure to keep in close touch with the TOEFL or IELTS test administrator.


My professor is out, can I replace my reference?

We have received a few inquiries from applicants who have submitted their applications and one or more of their listed references have not completed the online recommendation form.  We generally get a question like this:  “I listed a professor/former supervisor as a reference in my application and it appears his/her reference is the only one missing. I am unable to get in touch with him/her, as s/he no longer works at my company (or is at the university) and I am afraid s/he may have forgotten about my reference for my application. Can I select another person in his/her place in order to complete my application?”

You have two options.

Option 1 – replacing reference with an electronic reference

If you wish to replace the missing reference with an electronic reference, send an email to Include your full name and email address – specifically, the name and email address you used when you submitted your application. Also include your applicant ID number if available. In your email, include the follwing information:

  • First Name of your recommender
  • Last Name of your recommender
  • Email address for your recommender
  • Relationship to your recommender (e.g. supervisor, professor, etc.)
  • Your recommender’s job title
  • Your recommender’s place of employment (e.g. company, university name, etc.)
  • The number of years and months your recommender has known you

Option 2 – replacing reference with a paper reference

If you wish to replace the missing reference with an paper reference, you do not need to change anything on your submitted application. Simply download and print the paper reference form, complete/sign/date page 1 of the form and provide both page 1 and 2 to your reference with a stamped, addressed envelope. (For the mailing address, it is critical you use the following address: SMF ADMISSIONS; 100 Gerlach Hall; 2108 Neil Ave; Columbus OH 43210-1144.)

If this situation applies to you, I hope this information helps! Let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help!

A Reference on References

Question: "Would the President of my University work as a reference?" Answer: "Absolutely!"

The Fisher Specialized Master in Business-Finance program requires you submit at least three references for your complete application application. There is some good advice out there on what is an effective reference as part of a graduate business program application. Here’s our take:

Who should write your reference letters?

1) The admissions committee wants to see references from people who know you well and can comment and provide evidence to support their opinions about you on your potential for success in a rigorous graduate business program.

2) Because most students applying to this program are undergraduate seniors at time of application, references from academic sources (professors, specifically) carry the most weight. References from non academic sources (e.g. internship supervisors, etc.) are good – but we would not classify them as “primary” references. Because the application requires three references, we expect to see at least three academic references.

3) Personal references do not carry much, if any weight, in an admission decision. If you want to be viewed as a serious applicant, references from family friends and/or roommates are not a good idea. (And, yes, we have seen references from family friends and roommates before!)

4) Teaching assistants do not carry much weight in the admissions process. Reason – they have not been in academia for a long time and their frames of reference are relatively small and narrow. Academic instructors who teach as their full time “jobs” (e.g. tenured professors, etc.) who have been doing this for some time will be your most effective academic references.

5) Academic advisers are a mixed bag … sometimes they’re effective, sometimes they’re not effective. Remember that an ineffective reference is one that that simply summarizes information from your resume and/or your essays. Academic advisers are sometime prone to doing this “summary” type of reference. If your academic adviser is also someone you have had as an instructor in one or more of your classes, s/he is more likely to be a relatively more effective reference.

Strong references should be able to discuss:

  • The validity of your claims of academic excellence, professional success and personal values
  • Your specific qualifications, including the depth of your academic and professional experiences
  • Your unique traits that are not covered anywhere else in the application

In summary, a strong letter of reference stands on its own. If it provides new information on you that is not found elsewhere in your application, this is a sign of a good reference. If it simply summarizes information found elsewhere in your application, this is a sign of a weak reference.

How many references should you get?

The SMF program application requires three references to be submitted as part of a complete application. (Only complete applications are reviewed for admission decisions.) Sometimes, an applicant will ask us, “I can get four or five very good references. How do I choose the ‘best’ three to submit?” Our response always is “If you can get four or five very good references, then get all four or five. As long as the four or five fit the criteria of being a *strong* reference, then get all four or five.” You will never be penalized for submitting “too many” strong references!

How should you approach your (potential) references?

How you approach your references sends a clear signal to your potential references as to how serious of a candidate you really are. Additionally, by doing some additional prep work up front, you will be doing a favor to your references by giving them clear direction on how they should approach your recommendations.

  • Never simply give the reference form to your references. You should always make an appointment to meet with each of your potential references. Be prepared to discuss with each of them the following information:
  • Briefly summarize the reasons why you are applying to this program
  • Let him/her know why you believe s/he would be a good reference for your application for admission.
  • Be prepared to discuss any issues or concerns your potential reference may have with respect to your candidacy for this program

If you get the sense that your potential reference may be giving you a lukewarm or perfunctory letter of recommendation, you should politely withdraw your request. It is better to spend time to get strong letters of reference than simply ask the first three people that come to mind. In the long run, your application will be stronger for your extra effort.

Although an applicant’s application will not be accepted or denied based on a single letter of reference, your references taken together are a very critical part of your application. Good references make your application stronger – weak/lukewarm references weaken your application.

I hope this helps give you some additional guidance on who and how you should approach for your references to the program. If you have any questions, please contact us.